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White House lawyers begin Trump defence

White House lawyers begin Trump defence

AFP
Washington
White House lawyers began presenting their defence of Donald Trump at his historic Senate impeachment trial on Saturday, saying the president had done nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine and accusing Democrats of seeking to overturn the results of the 2016 election.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone took the floor for opening arguments at a rare weekend session of the 100-member Senate, which will decide whether the 45th US president should be removed from office.
Democratic prosecutors which impeached Trump on December 18, had not made their case that the president was guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Cipollone said at only the third impeachment trial in US history.
“We don’t believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they’re asking you to do,” he told a hushed Senate chamber. “In fact, we believe when you hear the facts... you will find that the president did absolutely nothing wrong.”
House prosecutors spent the previous three days laying out a detailed case that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart to open an investigation into political rival Joe Biden.
Cipollone said Democrats were asking the Senate to “overturn the results of the last election” and remove Trump from the ballot in the upcoming November vote.
“They’re asking you to do something that no Senate has ever done,” the White House counsel said.
“They’re asking you to tear up all of the ballots across this country,” he said. “Take that decision away from the American people. They are here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history and we can’t allow that to happen.”
Shortly before the defence began its presentation, Trump fired off a tweet with insulting nicknames for leading Democrats and told his supporters to tune in to the live television broadcast.
The Republican president also tweeted remarks from supporters lauding his achievements since taking office in January 2017.
Trump’s lawyers will have 24 hours spread over three days to present their defence of the president to the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53 to 47 seat majority.
“I don’t believe anything they’ve said so far is impeachable,” Senator Rick Scott told reporters after Democrats wrapped up their case on Friday night.